Usain Bolt? I’d rather watch Thorpe v Phelps, says Foster

SPRINT king Usain Bolt’s defence of his 100m crown may be the biggest draw of the London Olympics for some – but British swimming great Mark Foster insists the main event will take place in the pool.

Foster believes the battle between Ian Thorpe, the returning five-time Olympic gold medallist and Michael Phelps, the American with 14 Olympic golds to his name, will be the highlight of the 2012 games.

And the British short course specialist thinks the potential clash between Australian Thorpe, 28, and Phelps, 25, in the 200m freestyle and relay events will be even better than watching Bolt, the current fastest man in the world.

“They [Thorpe and Phelps] are both massive global names. If they get on the blocks together then for me it will be the biggest event of the games,” Foster, who carried the flag for Great Britain at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing games, told City A.M.

“Those two competing in London is going to be such a highlight – like back in the days of the athletics when you had Linford Christie versus Carl Lewis, and Seb Coe versus Steve Ovett.

“Everyone wants to see Usain Bolt. I want to see Usain Bolt too but it’s kind of a case of ‘how fast can Usain Bolt go?’ whereas those two on the block against each other is going to be a real scrap.

“I want to see competitive races when I watch sport; I don’t like seeing a demonstration, I want to see a race between the biggest names.”

Thorpe announced his retirement from the sport in 2006 due to illness and fatigue but he revealed earlier this year that he would return to competition for next year’s Games, and Foster is willing him to regain form in time to compete at the highest level.

“I just hope that Thorpey is getting back into the best shape of his life,” he added. “The big thing is that he has got back into swimming because he really wants it and that’s exciting.”

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